First Glance at the 2010 Honda Ridgeline Truck
Ridgeline is different. There's no gap between the cab and the bed. Seams and gaps all over the body are tight, and car-like -- just like you'll find on a Honda sedan. The vehicle squats over its wheels, but still has a generous 8.2" of minimum ground clearance. It looks bigger in person than it does in photos, but maybe that's just the psychological effect. I may have expected to see a smaller truck because of the Honda name.
Because of the four-door cabin and the short (60") bed length, Ridgeline's proportions in profile take some getting used to. Over the course of my week with the truck, I never found myself caught up in its beauty -- but I didn't have to look away in horror, either. The more I drove the Ridgeline, the better it started to look.
In the Ridgeline's Pickup Truck Driver's Seat
Beefy door pulls protect the door handles, and really give driver and passenger a handhold when the road turns rough. A multi-functional center console provides a variety of storage and organizational options.
The second row brims with utility as well. A 60/40 split bench seat easily and conveniently folds up flush with the bed wall and locks into place, leaving a roomy, flat load floor behind the first row. My dogs appreciated this space in particular, as they could lie comfortably on the floor without worry of sliding off of the seat at a stop.
The pickup bed is smartly designed. Though it is only 60" long with the tailgate closed, open the gate and you've got a flat, supported surface that's 49.5" wide between the wheel wells, and 79" long -- plenty big enough for a sheet of 4' x 8' plywood. Eight heavy-duty tie down cleats are standard. And the great bonus is a lockable, watertight 8.5 cubic foot trunk that hides beneath the load floor. The trunk is big enough for a couple of rolling suitcases, and really extends the usability of the Ridgeline.
On the Road in the Honda Ridgeline Pickup Truck
Ridgeline comes standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission and a heavy-duty transmission cooler, as well as 4-wheel drive and a locking rear differential. The 4-wheel drive system, which Honda calls "VTM-4" (Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive System), can send up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels when the rear diff is locked, which can be pretty handy in the mud and on slippery surfaces.
Where I live, I have to move my vehicles from one side of the street to the other several times per week in order to avoid a ticket, so I tend to notice turning diameter more than most drivers. Ridgeline's 42.6' turning diameter is way bigger than I would have expected, probably a penalty for that wide bed space and wide wheel track. By contrast, a Toyota Tacoma regular cab can make the same turn in 36.7', and a double cab can do it in 40.7'.
If you like the part truck/part SUV layout, there are a few other choices on the market. The Chevrolet Avalanche is a true body-on-frame example, and one that I really like. There's also a luxury variant, the Cadillac Escalade EXT, which is sort of silly, to be honest. Ford's Explorer SportTrac straddles the line between SUV and truck. Toyota's Tacoma Double Cab also flirts with the short bed/full cabin formula. But since GM cancelled the planned revival of the El Camino (c'mon, GM!) and Subaru deep-sixed the Baja, nobody other than Honda is building a car-based pickup truck.
I found myself very charmed by the Ridgeline. I'm not sure that the pickup truck needed to be rethought, but Honda certainly did a thorough job of it. The thing that would keep me from buying a Ridgeline is price. Maybe if I could live without the full complement of equipment -- no navigation, no heated front seats, no leather -- I could justify a Ridgeline in my fleet.
I appreciate the intelligence and originality of the Ridgeline, but I kind of like my truck to feel like a truck, and my car to feel like a car. I don't need one vehicle to be all things at once. But, if you're the kind of person who is more likely to carry a Leatherman Wave than a Buck Knife and a tool kit, maybe you'll appreciate the all-around abilities of the Ridgeline.